ON THE ROAD

The Herald Magazine - - NEWS - DO­MINIC RYAN

THOSE of a cer­tain vin­tage will re­mem­ber the daily shenani­gans of Arthur Da­ley. Played on the telly box by the late great Ge­orge Cole, Arthur summed up his sec­ond­hand car busi­ness thus: “You make con­tact with your cus­tomer, un­der­stand their needs then flog them some­thing they could well do with­out.”

From the punter’s perspective, I’ve been there, done that. Re­cently I strode into a phone shop wear­ing my Mr An­gry face, with the in­ten­tion of get­ting a bet­ter deal on my soon-to-be-up con­tract. I ex­ited with my Mr Con­fused face and a use­lessly new smart­phone that came with an eye-wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive two-year pay­ment plan.

But surely the hal­cyon days of the un­scrupu­lous sec­ond­hand car dealer are a thing of the past?

Well, while there surely must be bad ap­ples, the lat­est stats would sug­gest a new­found trust in our mod­ern car deal­ers.

In fact, more than two thirds (68%) of 18-24 year olds would feel un­com­fort­able buy­ing a car with­out the face-to-face guid­ance you can only get from a bona fide dealer.

This is ac­cord­ing to new re­search from fi­nance com­pany Black Horse.

Its sur­vey also claims the ma­jor el­e­ments of car buy­ing we want hu­man help with are the ve­hi­cle it­self (67%), war­ranty and main­te­nance in­for­ma­tion (68%) and fi­nance op­tions (37%).

Younger driv­ers are most likely to want sup­port with money mat­ters, with a large pro­por­tion of those aged 18-24 (50%) and 25-34 (44%) say­ing they want a dealer to help with this.

Sadly, it’s a long time since I fit­ted into such age brack­ets yet I con­fess I would not be con­fi­dent buy­ing from a pri­vate seller. Things that go through my mind: Should I turn up at the lay-by with a bag of used fifty pound notes, as re­quested in the email? Is the car held to­gether with that sticky tape? Does this V5 look like a pho­to­copy?

It’s all very wor­ry­ing and ex­plains why my lat­est pur­chase has taken place in the cosy con­fines of a pro­fes­sional deal­er­ship.

Hav­ing spied the Audi TT on­line and phoned ahead for a spin, I armed my­self with my best Da­ley-bust­ing mantra: Do not tell the nice man you love his car. Do not men­tion it’s priced fairly. Do not tell the nice man you want to buy his car. Re­peat.

Cue: “What a beauty. You must have a lot of in­ter­est with only one owner on the book?”

To be fair, it was less stress­ful than the al­ter­na­tive, which had been meeting Dave from Gumtree at his bro’s place and look­ing over his sick brief coz, like, he wanna go swop­sies for my grandad Porsche.

I have mates who love get­ting bar­gains in such pri­vate sales and I’m not say­ing ev­ery en­counter ends up in bar­ter­ing with a Torque­mada. It’s just that all of mine have.

No, I’m hap­pier at a deal­er­ship, in this in­stance the es­timably rep­utable Parks Mo­tor Group. Not only did I get to con­sider my car in a safe and pleas­ant en­vi­ron­ment, over cof­fee, but there was no hard sell. And when my de­ci­sion was made ev­ery­thing else was taken care of for me – from swap­ping the reg from my trade-in to en­sur­ing a dealer war­ranty.

Mean­time, with a care of duty to an­swer ques­tions, pro­vide clear ex­pla­na­tions and help me un­der­stand all my op­tions – ad­mirably dis­played in this case by one James Gray at Parks’ Honda HQ in Hamil­ton – deal­ers will con­tinue to play a piv­otal role in the car buy­ing jour­ney for con­sumers.

Sorry, Arthur. Sorry, Dave.

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